Julius Caesar Quotations

Beware the ides of March. (soothsayer, Act I, Scene II)
     The play Julius Caesar is filled with examples of foreshadowing, and this quotation is perhaps the most clear example. Occurring very early in the play, this quotation signals to the audience that they can expect something big will happen on the ideas of March. And, indeed, this is the day on which Julius Caesar meets his end.

Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings. (Cassius, Act I, Scene II)

     Cassius makes this statement to Brutus at the beginning of the play, when he is first trying to convince Brutus to join the conspiracy. Essentially, Cassius is saying that men are in charge of their own destinies, telling Brutus that if he wants something done about Caesar, then he will have to do it himself-he can't just wait around for fate to handle the issue. This is a call to action from Cassius to Brutus. This idea of fate versus free will is one that is called into question many times throughout the play.

Well, Brutus, thou art noble; yet, I see,
Thy honorable mettle may be wrought
From that it is disposed: therefore it is meet
That noble minds keep ever with their likes;
For who so firm that cannot be seduced? (Cassius, Act I, Scene II)

     Cassius says this at the very end of the first act in a moment when he is alone on stage. These comments give the reader some insight into Cassius' true nature. He is consciously thinking about manipulating Brutus here. He recognized that Brutus has an honorable "mettle," or disposition; however, he knows that no person is so honorable that they cannot be "seduced" to an opposing viewpoint.

And therefore think him as a serpent's egg
Which, hatch'd, would, as his kind, grow mischievous,
And kill him in the shell. (Brutus, Act II, Scene I)

     Thinking aloud alone in his orchard, Brutus debates over what he should do about Julius Caesar. This is the conclusion of this soliloquy. Brutus decides that, like an unhatched snake, Caesar is not dangerous yet, but that he has the potential to be. For this reason, he knows that he must kill Julius Caesar. This quotation helps develop Brutus' character because it shows the audience what is most important to him: the Roman people. He is willing to even kill a dear friend because he truly believes it is what is right. His thinking might be misguided, but this quote shows his true motivation.

Our course will seem too bloody, Caius Cassius,
To cut the head off and then hack the limbs,
Like wrath in death and envy afterwards;
For Antony is but a limb of Caesar:
Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.

     Brutus makes this statement to Cassius and the other conspirators as they are formulating their plans to kill Caesar. Unlike Cassius, Brutus does not want to kill Antony because he doesn't want their actions to seem to bloody or malicious. Ultimately, Brutus believes they want to be seen as "sacrificers not butchers," meaning that they have to be careful not to make the whole ordeal into a bloodbath the might be misinterpreted. He says, besides that Antony is just a "limb" of Caesar, or worthless without him.

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once. (Caesar, Act II, Scene II)

     In this quotation, Caesar is reflecting on the dreams that Calpurnia had about his death. He says that people who fear death constantly "die" many small deaths from fear and from their own imaginings; those who face life bravely, only have to face their death once. This quotation perfectly sums up Caesar's mindset. In all things, Caesar strives to be perceived as courageous and bold, so of course he would shun cowardly traits.

Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar! (Caesar, Act III, Scene 1)
     Caesar utters these words just after the conspirators stab him. Dramatically, Brutus is the last to stab, and these words show Caesar's utter surprise that his dear friend Brutus has participated in the plot to overthrow him. These few words express the depths of his betrayal.

Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men--
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral. (Antony, Act III, Scene II)

     This is a portion of Antony's funeral speech following Caesar's death. Throughout the speech, as he does here, Antony refers to Brutus and the other conspirators as "honorable" men. Clearly, however, he is being ironic. Throughout the speech, he goes on to show how he believes that Brutus acted anything but honorably. His funeral speech proves that he is a shrewd manipulator.

This was the noblest Roman of them all:
All the conspirators save only he
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world 'This was a man!' (Antony, Act V, Scene V)

     These are some of the final words of the play, spoken by Antony over Brutus' body. Antony's words are quite telling of Brutus as a character. Even Antony, as Brutus' sworn enemy, recognizes that he was a true-hearted and "noble" person. All of the other conspirators except Brutus, Antony says, killed Caesar because they were jealous of his power; Brutus was the only one who acted with honorable intentions.

Related Links:

Julius Caesar Summary
Julius Caesar Quiz
Julius Caesar Act V Summary
Pride Julius Caesar Act I Summary
Julius Caesar Act II Summary
Literature Summaries

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